Tumbling in the Sand
We received some hard news about our newest kitten, Marcella Maple Syrup (yes, that’s her name. She came with the Maple Syrup, but Marcella was added as all our cats get names of theologians. Marcella is named after Marcella Althaus-Reid.). We call her Marci for short.
Back in October, both Søren (named after Søren Kierkegaard) and Desmond (named after Desmond Tutu), died. Both after sixteen years of full life. They died within three days of each other. We were pretty devastated. Søren died first of unknown causes — the emergency vet thought perhaps a brain tumor was likely given his symptoms. Desmond died three days later at home. We found him at the foot of the bed. I can’t decide which was worse: making the decision to let go surrounded by medicine and tubes and vets or to come home to find a cat has died.
We were in no hurry to get another cat, but Hildegard (named after Hildegard von Bingen) was alone for the first time in her life and it seemed like it was worse for her than for us. So, perhaps too soon, at the end of November, we brought home this cutie:
We adopted her from Eleventh Hour Rescue, a great rescue that I recommend. They’ve been really good. When several of Marci’s litter mates died around Christmas time of FIP, they wrote us and warned us about the possibility that she might have it too, having picked it up in the shelter that she was rescued from (they were all born in a shelter in North Carolina).
A month or so after we got that news, Marci got really sick. She had a fever for over ten days and really wasted away. Though she ate constantly, she couldn’t keep the weight on and we thought she was dying. Amazingly, though, she got better. Her temperature went away and we cautiously began to hope that she would live. She was well long enough that we took her to her spay appointment last week.
But the vet did blood work prior to the surgery and things were not alright. She had seriously elevated globulin levels in her blood, which was indicative of a viral infection. The vet wanted to do some more tests and sent her home. The blood work came back that she has extremely elevated antibodies to Feline coronavirus. The vet is 95% positive that Marci has FIP (because she’s tested negative for about everything else) and will not live long. The good news is that there is no obvious damage to her kidneys or liver yet, which are often attacked. The good news is, we might have a little more time.
My husband and I both have science background and so have been reading. There really are no treatments for FIP available and so the vet gave us the equivalent of “Your cat is going to die and there’s nothing we can do.” So, we started doing some research. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned that Feline coronavirus is related to SARS and that there has been some effective treatment of patients with SARS with licorice root. So, we got some tincture that is formulated for pets. We’re acutely aware of the potential dangers of this, but figure it’s either just wait for Marci to die or try something that might help. So, there we are. We’ve also modified her diet. According to some research, cats on a no-grain diet do better with FIP than cats who eat grains. Good news, Marci always hated the dry kibble anyway. So we’re doing what we can. I, the nearly vegan, even went and bought bony meat from the grocery store to make her broth.
In the meantime, we have her for the time we have her. I’m so grateful that she came into our lives. She’s loud and friendly and spoiled rotten. She’s brave and playful and curious. She’s a delight. I’m glad for each day that I get woken up way too early in the morning to feed her first breakfast (though, I’m grateful my husband more often than not gets up to feed her). I’m grateful for her opinionated self that keeps us on our toes. I’m grateful for the days she spends in the office greeting visitors and demanding food from the office staff. I’m glad I have her today.
I realize, as I’ve thought about this, I suppose today is all we get for sure for anyone. We have no idea how long Marci will be with us. But we have no idea how long we have Hildegard with us either. We have no idea how long we have each other. It makes me grateful for now. Thank you, God, for this present, this moment, for this furry bit of grace.